Illini game at South Florida moved to Friday night kickoff

Illinois road game at USF moved to Friday night

Illinois football will have a double dip of Friday night lights during the 2017 season.

Illinois announced Thursday that its Week 3 game at South Florida, previously scheduled for Saturday, has been moved to Friday, Sept. 15. The kickoff time for the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is not yet set.

South Florida went 11-2 last season under head coach Willie Taggart, who was hired by Oregon during the offseason. The Bulls hired former Texas coach Charllie Strong.

The change to the schedule means Illinois will play two straight Friday night games. Following the USF game, Illinois has a bye week and then kicks off the Big Ten season against on Friday, Sept. 29, in Champaign. That kickoff time also has not been released yet.

The Big Ten announced in November a slate of six Friday night games to its schedule, which received backlash from some fans and high school coaches.

In a statement, the Big Ten said: "The Big Ten Conference appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games.  Overall, these games represent approximately six percent of Big Ten home games annually, and no institution will host more than one game in any given year. Friday night games will also be announced at least 10 months in advance to provide all parties adequate time to prepare."

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said: “We are excited about these changes to our upcoming football schedules. The Friday game will provide a national platform for a marquee matchup against Nebraska.”

“The national television exposure of a Friday night game on one of the major networks will help build our program,” head coach Lovie Smith said.

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